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Kansas City attorney's posting of $1 million cash bond raises questions

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 | 3:40 p.m. CDT

KANSAS CITY — Three years ago, Kansas City attorney Susan Elizabeth Van Note filed for bankruptcy, unable to pay nearly $400,000 in debt. Last week, she was able to come up with $1 million for a cash bond while awaiting trial in the death of her father for allegedly forging documents to deny him life-sustaining medical treatment.

The trustee in the bankruptcy case wants to know where that bond money came from, The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday.

Attorney Erlene Krigel said at the time she couldn't find any assets to help satisfy the creditor claims against Van Note, who owed more on her home and two car loans than the property was worth. Krigel said she would inform the U.S. Trustee Office, which appointed her to the case and is an arm of the Department of Justice.

"It's very important we know where that money came from," she said.

Defense attorney Tom Bath said he doesn't know where his client got the bond money. He also couldn't identity the person who presented a cashier's check at the Boone County Jail. But he suggested a friend could have helped.

Van Note has pleaded not guilty to felony forgery and first-degree murder charges. Her father, 67-year-old William B. Van Note, and his companion, 59-year-old Sharon Dickson, were shot at their Lake of the Ozarks home in Sunrise Beach in October 2010.

Dickson died at the scene, while the elder Van Note was hospitalized for four days before his daughter allegedly gave doctors a forged durable power of attorney that persuaded them to remove his life support. Charges haven't been filed in Dickson's death.

Some are wondering whether any of the bond money came from the estate of William Van Note, a millionaire businessman.

Camden County prosecutor Brian Keedy said he too was surprised that Van Note is out of jail. On Tuesday, he went to the Columbia courthouse to view the cashier's check, which was drawn on Landmark Bank.

"I've never heard of anyone making a million-dollar cash-only bond," Keedy said. "But if she has the ability to do it .. ."

Van Note's attorney has acknowledged his client forged the document but said she did so only because she couldn't find one her father actually signed. Bath also said no physical evidence places Liz Van Note at the crime scene.

A high school classmate of Liz Van Note and the classmate's husband also face charges for allegedly signing the power of attorney as witnesses.

On Sept. 12, about a week after the criminal indictment, an attorney for Sharon Dickson's adult son asked a Clay County judge to remove Liz Van Note from serving as personal representative of her father's estate. According to a lawsuit, William Van Note's will named Sharon Dickson to be personal representative of his estate, but only if she outlived him.

Judge Larry Harmon, citing the charges against Liz Van Note, suspended her from the position, appointed a replacement and ordered that no distributions from the estate take place without a court order.


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